Wicker garden furniture is much more brittle than other materials and therefore more susceptible to damage from the elements. Sure, rain can cause furniture to rot and fall apart, but wind and sun can be just as damaging. Wicker can easily dry out when exposed to a lot of strong sunlight and high winds. When the material loses moisture it becomes brittle, cracks and chips.
Many people throw away their patio furniture and replace it when this happens, but what if you could restore it? This article tells you everything you need to know to restore your dried-out wicker patio furniture and how to protect it for the future.
table of Contents
- Is dry wicker furniture salvageable?
- How to properly restore dry wicker garden furniture (step by step)
- 1. Clean the furniture
- 2. Let it dry
- 3. Rehydrate the wicker with oil
- 4. Repair broken or damaged strands
- 5. Replace the feet
- 6. Paint wicker (optional)
- 7. Flechtweide (optional)
- 8. Seal Furniture (Mandatory)
- How do you know when wicker furniture is irreparable?
- Should You Protect Wicker Patio Furniture From The Rain?
- Should You Protect Wicker Patio Furniture From The Sun?
- Should you store wicker garden furniture for the winter?
- What are some other tips to extend the life of wicker furniture?
- final thoughts
Is dry wicker furniture salvageable?
Yes, you can restore dry wicker furniture as long as it is not too damaged.If you take action when you first notice it starting to crack and split, you can rehydrate the wicker. Once it has retained more moisture and is no longer brittle, you can repair it and then protect it against the elements so this doesn't happen again.
This involves first rehydrating the wicker and cleaning it with a mild solution of soap and water. Once it has dried you can mend any broken strands before painting/dying to protect it. Let's take a closer look at each step.
How to properly restore dry wicker garden furniture (step by step)
1. Clean the furniture
Start by cleaning your wicker furniture to remove dust, dirt, and grime. Take a vacuum cleaner and suck up any loose dust and dirt, making sure to get into any small crevices. Use a bristle attachment to get into the spaces between the strands to remove as much loose dust as possible.
Next, clean the furniture with a light cleaning solution. A few drops of regular dish soap mixed with a little warm water works great. You can also use a homemade white vinegar and ammonia cleaner. Alternatively, you can use a wicker cleaner spray, but if you're trying to rehydrate dry wicker, it's best to use more water. As such, homemade cleaning products are usually the best. More details on cleaning wicker garden furniture can be found in our guide here. [link to another article].
Take a clean cloth and wipe down all the furniture. You generally have to be careful about how much water you put on the wicker because you don't want it to develop mold and mildew. But when it's dry, you'll want the braid to get more moist.
When you have cleaned everything, take a bucket of fresh water and a clean rag. Rinse the furniture to remove excess soap stains and to moisturize the wicker.
2. Let it dry
When the furniture is completely clean, you should allow it to dry properly before proceeding to the next step. Ideally, you should restore your furniture in summer on a warm but not too hot day. Let furniture air dry for 48 hours.
If for some reason you're going to be doing this in the winter, or just having no luck with the weather, you may need to dry it indoors. In this case, ventilation is important because you don't want mold and mildew to develop in the damp basket. Open the windows if you can, and consider using a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
3. Rehydrate the wicker with oil
Oil is a great way to rehydrate wicker and prevent it from breaking. It also gives a nice shine and also adds protection against humidity. Linseed oil is a good option, but you can also use lemon oil or a good quality furniture polish. You can even use olive oil in a pinch if you want to use something you already have at home. As long as it's a good quality oil suitable for use on wood, you should be fine.
To apply, take a microfiber cloth and dab some oil on it. Rub in circles, place on basket weave, then wipe off excess. Dry times will vary depending on the type of oil used. Flaxseed oil takes much longer than, for example, lemon or orange oil.
Once it's dry, take a look at the furniture and see if it's still dry. If it's been neglected for a while, you may need two or three coats to bring it back to life. Just repeat the same process, apply the oil and let it dry until you are happy with the results.
4. Repair broken or damaged strands
You may have broken or damaged braid strands if the furniture has been left to dry for a long time. In most cases these can be fixed, but remember that if everything is covered in large holes, it may be time to replace them.
To fix your wicker furniture, you need to remove the broken strands, and then weave new ones in their place. Make sure you know what material the wicker is made of (plastic, rattan, bamboo) and get as close to a match as possible. If you contact the manufacturer, they may sell replacement threads. If not, go to a wicker furniture specialist and see what they have.
CanWatch a tutorial on how to weave the willow strands on YouTube here. It's relatively easy once you get the hang of the technique, and you can even repair large holes in furniture. Be sure to replace threads that are breaking, as well as those that are completely broken.
5. Replace the feet
The legs of your garden furniture will get scratched when you move them. As you restore it, be sure to take the time to change the feet. Most furniture has simple screw-in legs, in which case just buy another set and swap them out. When shopping for new ones, keep in mind that they are often referred to as sliders or foot protectors, depending on the retailer.
If you have wicker garden furniture with metal legs, you will need sliders or protectors that slide across the floor. Please check the size before purchasing to ensure a perfect fit. It's worth buying a few sets so you'll have spares when you need them.
6. Paint wicker (optional)
Now that the furniture is cleaned, rehydrated, and repaired, consider future-proofing it. Paint is a great option here and can also give your furniture a whole new look.
Before painting, you should apply a coat of quality wood primer. This will prevent the paint from absorbing too much and provide a good surface for the paint to adhere to. Wicker is a difficult material to paint as there are many small gaps and hard-to-reach places. Priming first makes the job easier and gives a better finish. Ideally, apply your primer and color with a sprayer to give even coverage and get into all the small crevices.
Once the primer has dried you can paint. Oil-based paints work well on wicker furniture because they don't chip easily and are long-lasting. Be sure to use an oil-based paint that is suitable for outdoor use. Alternatively, you can use a can of latex spray paint. Check again if it is designed for outdoor projects.
Apply thin coats of paint and move back and forth across the furniture fairly quickly to avoid drips. You need two or three coats to get a good finish.
7. Flechtweide (optional)
You can stain the wicker instead of painting it if you want a natural wood finish. Again, you need to spray the stain to get an even finish. Oil-based stains work well on willow, but you can also use fabric dye mixed with water (at a ratio of ½ cup paint to 2 cups water). Using fabric paint gives you a wider range of colors without painting, so you can still see some of the effect of the wood.
Stains and thinned fabric paint are very thin, so you can apply them with a spray gun. However, you can use a brush if you prefer. Just make sure you work it well in any space. Work from the top down, wiping up any drips. Let the stain sit for about 10 minutes (although this varies by stain, so check the guidelines), then wipe off any excess.
8. Seal Furniture (Mandatory)
Sealing your furniture after painting or staining protects it from the elements and keeps it in good condition longer. A polyurethane clear coat is the best way to seal your paint or stain to prevent cracking and peeling and to protect against moisture and UV rays. HeMinwax Timonel Spar Urethan-Sprayexcellent as it goes on easily and is beautiful and durable.
You can read more about itPaint, stain and seal your wicker furniture right here in this post.
How do you know when wicker furniture is irreparable?
It can be difficult to know when furniture needs to be restored and when it needs to be replaced. If the furniture has dried out with some broken strands, you can repair it by following the steps outlined above. However, there are times when it is not worth it.
If there are more broken threads than good ones and the entire piece of furniture is riddled with holes, it may not be possible to repair it. To fix it, most of the braid would have to be removed, leaving just the frame. At this point, you're basically knitting everything from scratch, so consider just replacing it.
Furniture riddled with rot is also irreparable. Some surface mold can be removed. But if it's been left there too long and is deeply seated, you may not be able to repair it.
In general, consider how much time and money it will take to repair the furniture and whether the end result will be worth it.
Should You Protect Wicker Patio Furniture From The Rain?
Yes absolutely. When wicker patio furniture gets wet, mold and mildew grow on the surface and eventually penetrate the wicker. As soon as it starts to rot, it does a lot of damage. Ideally, you should protect it from the rain inside, but if that's not an option, you can buy slipcovers that fit over the furniture and keep the rain out.
Should You Protect Wicker Patio Furniture From The Sun?
Yes, the sun can be just as damaging as the rain. If wicker is constantly exposed to direct sunlight, it will dry out and become brittle. If you leave the furniture exposed, it will dry out much faster and you will have to restore it more often. Placing a cover over it will protect it and prevent it from cracking and splitting.
Should you store wicker garden furniture for the winter?
Yes, winter weather takes its toll on your wicker furniture. Rain causes mold and mildew, but cold can be even more damaging. Water seeps into furniture and when the temperature drops, it freezes and expands, breaking the strands.
You won't be using it in the winter anyway, so you'll want to keep it inside in a dry place for protection. Put it in a garage or shed if you have the space. At least put it under a good quality furniture cover. You can find more information on winter storage for your wicker furniture in our detailed guide. [Link to another article]
What are some other tips to extend the life of wicker furniture?
Winter storage and covering when not in use are the most important ways to protect your garden furniture. There are also some other simple maintenance tips to follow.
The most important thing is to keep the furniture clean. Spills or general dirt and grime can erode wicker and make it weak. You can prevent this by cleaning up spills right away and wiping down furniture quickly with a damp cloth from time to time. Also use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust. Do a deeper cleaning every 6 months.
If you have painted or stained and sealed it, reapply your chosen finish periodically to maintain protection.
Even with good care, wicker garden furniture will dry out over time. But don't worry, you don't have to replace it right away. As long as it's not too damaged, you can clean it and use natural oils to rehydrate it and benefit from it for a few more years. If you repeat this process every few years, there's no reason why your patio furniture can't last a decade or more.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. He started working at a garden center when he was 15, helping people buy plants, garden supplies, and lawn care products. He has experience in real estate and owns a home. Jamie loves backyard projects, furniture refinishing, and is happy to share his knowledge online.
How do you restore outdoor wicker furniture? ›
To restore unpainted or natural wicker to its warm glow, rub it with linseed oil (available at art supply stores), then gently wipe off the excess. Let freshly-oiled chairs dry for several days before sitting on them or add cushions to keep the oil off your clothing.How do you rehydrate rattan furniture? ›
Moisturizing!” Brockway says. “Use a high-oil content furniture polish, like lemon oil or orange oil, to keep the exterior looking great.” You should schedule a moisturizing session about once a month. For best results, dilute the polish in water and then spray the back and undersides of your furniture.How do you fix outdoor wicker resin? ›
- Clean the Faux Wicker Patio Furniture. ...
- Remove Broken and Frayed Ends. ...
- Cut a New Resin Strip to Fit. ...
- Apply a Quick-Set or Non-Quick-Set Epoxy. ...
- Weave the Strip Into Place. ...
- Glue the Ends Together Before Trimming. ...
- Touch Up the Section as Necessary.
Water-sealing natural wicker will keep the moisture away, and prolong the life of wicker products. Clear lacquer sealant can be applied by spraying, or with a paint brush. Be sure to cover the entire surface and let the wicker dry completely. You may also use tung oil, or shellac as an effective sealant.What is the difference between rattan and wicker? ›
“The difference is that rattan is a material, whereas wicker is the style and method of weaving,” Zoe explains. “Wicker can be woven from rattan as well as many other natural or synthetic materials, which is where the confusion often lies.”Can you hose down wicker furniture? ›
For unpainted wooden wicker furniture that is natural or has only been clear coated, you can hose down the water-soap/ammonia residue, but make sure that it is set only on light pressure. On the other hand, if it has been painted, do not use a hose as it can damage the furniture's finish.Can you repair old wicker furniture? ›
You fix it of course! Repairing wicker furniture is actually quite easy and doesn't take much time at all. In this guide you'll find easy tips, tools and tricks on repairing everything from your wicker table and chairs, to your sofa and other wicker furniture accessories.How long will outdoor wicker furniture last? ›
Natural wicker's lifespan outdoors is only one to two years, while if used indoors only the lifespan is much longer. If left outside natural wicker will dry and become brittle quicker, causing it to crack, unravel or get holes. The elements can take a toll on natural wicker.Can wicker furniture be left outside all year round? ›
Wicker. Wicker furniture should not be left outside in the winter. Water can easily get inside wicker furniture, and when that water freezes, it expands. This expansion may cause cracking and breakage of the wicker.Can you leave Real wicker furniture outside? ›
Natural wicker is not intended to be used outdoors and no amount of “water-proofing” spray-on's will protect natural wicker from the sun, moisture, mold, and mildew. If you want to use wicker furniture outside, it has to be resin wicker.
How do you moisturize wicker? ›
To keep wicker from drying out, mist it every three weeks. This doesn't mean drench it. Aim a spray bottle at the piece from about 3 feet away, spray and let mist settle. Dust and vacuum wicker regularly to keep dirt from accumulating in the crevices.How do you fix sun damaged rattan furniture? ›
- Take some epoxy resin, you can buy this here.
- Take a small amount of the Epoxy Resin and cover the break of the strand.
- Sculpt the epoxy using a small took to look similar to the surrounding weave.
- Leave to harden for at least 48 hours.
Make up a solution of warm water and washing-up liquid and give a good stir to make a lot of suds. Take a soft clean cloth and dip in the suds, you don't want to use a sodden wet cloth. Wipe over the cane and remove with another clean dry cloth, you may need a toothbrush to get into the crevices.What is the difference between wicker and resin wicker? ›
Wicker vs Resin Wicker
Natural wicker can be subject to damage caused by insects and small pests. Synthetic wicker is much more durable. As the name implies, it is suitable for outdoor conditions. Resin wicker can also be used indoors.
Resin wicker, also known as all-weather wicker, is manufactured predominantly for use in outdoor patio furniture. It is meant to look like natural wicker, but is made of a synthetic material, generally polyethylene.How do you restore resin on outdoor furniture? ›
Mix nine parts water with one part bleach in a plastic bucket. Cover your hands with protective rubber gloves and then dip a sponge in the mixture. Wipe down white furniture with the bleach mixture to remove stains and dark spots. Let the pieces dry in the sun.How do you condition old wicker? ›
Lemon oil cleans and polishes wicker to keep it looking vibrant for many seasons to come. Simply dip a clean cloth in lemon oil and wipe down your wicker furniture. You might want to do this twice a year after deep cleaning your furniture. Make sure the pieces are completely dry before you rub them down with lemon oil.How do you refinish rattan wicker? ›
- Scrub furniture clean.
- Tape off (if needed) anywhere you don't want the natural rattan color to go.
- Prime to prepare for paint.
- Spray a few coats of paint.
- Seal with a matte topcoat. ( optional)
Removing Mold and Mildew from Wicker Furniture
Wicker furniture is a front porch staple, and being out in humid air makes it vulnerable to mold and mildew. Even though a strong cleaner might be your first instinct, don't reach for the bleach. Instead, use a solution with a ratio of one-part vinegar to four-parts water.
"Resin wicker, often referred to as 'all-weather wicker' is a durable, weather-resistant synthetic fiber that can withstand the elements, like sun, rain, and humidity," recommends Lindsey Zborowski, style expert for Wayfair Professional. "Resin wicker is typically crafted from PVS, nylon, or polyethylene.
Which is better for outdoor wicker or rattan? ›
Wicker furniture is popular for outdoor use because it's lightweight and easy to move around. While rattan is durable and has traditionally been used for patio furniture, it's not actually the best choice for outdoor use because it isn't water resistant.What is the strongest material for outdoor furniture? ›
Wrought Iron is one of the most durable and longest lasting type of outdoor furniture available, many times lasting decades. Truly an investment that keeps on giving, wrought iron furniture is also the heaviest frame.Will it hurt wicker to get wet? ›
This is helpful because when wicker becomes damp, the fibers will soften and stretch and the furniture will no longer be safe to sit on or otherwise use. Tung oil should be applied by using a soft cloth when the furniture is first put outside.How do you clean vintage wicker furniture? ›
For an exhaustive cleaning annually, wet a cloth with warm water and softly scrub the wicker surface down. If you have any stains on your wicker furniture, you can use a combination of water and soap. Eliminate mold and mildew with a solution of 25% vinegar, 75% water.How do you winterize outdoor wicker furniture? ›
- Clean it Before You Put it Away. Make sure you clean your wicker furniture before storing it away for the winter. ...
- Covering them for the Long Haul. ...
- Make Sure the Wind Doesn't Toss them Around. ...
- Storing Outdoor Cushions. ...
- Bring it Inside the Home.
Which paints are best for painting wicker furniture? You can use chalk paint, mineral paint, milk paint, urethane, or even oil-based paint on wicker, rattan and woven furniture.Can I repaint wicker furniture? ›
But if the woven material is starting to look worn and faded, or the color simply doesn't match the rest of your outdoor decor, it's easy to revamp wicker furniture with a fresh coat of paint. The key is to thoroughly clean wicker furniture before you begin painting to ensure the new color adheres properly.What is the best treatment for wicker furniture? ›
Lemon oil cleans and polishes wicker to keep it looking vibrant for many seasons to come. Simply dip a clean cloth in lemon oil and wipe down your wicker furniture. You might want to do this twice a year after deep cleaning your furniture. Make sure the pieces are completely dry before you rub them down with lemon oil.Can you use vinegar on wicker? ›
Removing Mold and Mildew from Wicker Furniture
Even though a strong cleaner might be your first instinct, don't reach for the bleach. Instead, use a solution with a ratio of one-part vinegar to four-parts water. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the solution over the moldy and mildewed areas.
For unpainted wooden wicker furniture that is natural or has only been clear coated, you can hose down the water-soap/ammonia residue, but make sure that it is set only on light pressure. On the other hand, if it has been painted, do not use a hose as it can damage the furniture's finish.
What is the difference between wicker and rattan wicker? ›
“The difference is that rattan is a material, whereas wicker is the style and method of weaving,” Zoe explains. “Wicker can be woven from rattan as well as many other natural or synthetic materials, which is where the confusion often lies.”Does wicker dry rot? ›
Natural wicker dries out easily, so it should be kept out of direct sunlight to prolong its life. It can also begin to rot if it remains wet for too long. So, to assure your natural wicker has a long life, it is imperative to keep it out of the elements.What oil is best for rattan furniture? ›
Repairing or restoring rattan furniture
We recommend applying boiled linseed oil once a year for this purpose. Use a large paint brush and use as much oil as the rattan will absorb. Then just wipe the remainder away with a soft rag.
If you see there is dirt or a stain on the rattan or wicker frame of your furniture, you should first use Murphy's Oil Soap® or similar product and a soft rag to remove the soiling. If this is not effective, a clean rag with acetone, fine grit steel wool or sandpaper may be used.Can you treat wicker furniture for outdoor use? ›
Natural wicker is not intended to be used outdoors and no amount of “water-proofing” spray-on's will protect natural wicker from the sun, moisture, mold, and mildew. If you want to use wicker furniture outside, it has to be resin wicker.Can I use olive oil on wicker? ›
If you have rattan or wicker furniture, rub some warmed olive oil onto the furniture. Make sure you don't saturate and do rub the oil onto the furniture completely with a soft, clean cloth.Can you leave wicker furniture outside in the winter? ›
Wicker. Wicker furniture should not be left outside in the winter. Water can easily get inside wicker furniture, and when that water freezes, it expands. This expansion may cause cracking and breakage of the wicker.What do you clean outdoor wicker furniture with? ›
An effective all-purpose cleaning solution for outdoor wicker furniture is 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap and two cups of warm water. Wipe the wicker with a soft cloth or sponge, then rinse away the soapy suds with a garden hose. For mold and mildew removal, add one cup of white vinegar to the solution.Can you use Thompson's water Seal on wicker? ›
If damp conditions prevail, it is better to seal wicker completely by applying penetrating waterproofing sealer like Thompson's Water Seal instead of oil products. To apply, wipe or spray on, following the manufacturer's instructions, then wipe away any excess. Sealer will also darken wicker.Does wicker patio furniture last? ›
Natural wicker's lifespan outdoors is only one to two years, while if used indoors only the lifespan is much longer. If left outside natural wicker will dry and become brittle quicker, causing it to crack, unravel or get holes. The elements can take a toll on natural wicker.